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Keys to Success: How to Build & Manage a Database of Loyal Fans

Published: Wed February 04, 2009  News Feed

It’s no secret the music industry is changing. The power of success is shifting from the hands of large record labels to the hands of the artists themselves, largely thanks to the power of the internet.

Your future fans

Savvy artists, managers and promoters have come to realize that the new model for success is not by hoping to be discovered, but through independent entrepreneurship and self-promotion. To succeed in this newfound battle for supremacy, they must become online marketers, attracting others to their talent through various creative methods & ideas.

Over the years, it has become clear that one of the most important parts of finding industry success is establishing a devoted following of loyal fans. For the hopefuls to succeed and become stars, they must dive into the world of viral, buzz & guerilla marketing to get the word out about their talent. In light of advancements in mass communication over the past few years, what started out as word-of-mouth advertising has quickly become one of the most popular methods in the world for garnering publicity!

Where do I start?

It begins with building a list of fans. The reality is, the more fans you have, the more music & merchandise you will sell. It’s a numbers game, really. Take into consideration that when people come to your performances, they are much more likely to support you in the future by buying tickets & merchandise from you than if they discover your work online. This significant detail makes connecting to your fans in person particularly important, rather than waiting for them to find out about you on their own.

How do I start?

The most effective way to do this is to collect information directly from fans at your events. A good initiative for those with a limited budget is to have someone walk around with a clipboard or notebook collecting names, numbers and email addresses for your “opt-in” contact list. This is the list that your loving fans will gladly choose to participate in, since it will undoubtedly lead to hidden gems that only subscribers are entitled to.

Unfortunately, the process of collecting names in a crowded setting is not as easy as it sounds. People tend to have sloppy handwriting which only gets worse after a few drinks, and others tend to give inaccurate information. On top of that, it still takes a good amount of time to copy each handwritten entry into an online spreadsheet to use for your marketing efforts. On a good night, consider yourself lucky if you reach a 20% rate of accuracy after all info is transferred. What’s worse, think about all the time wasted copying the other 80% of what will turn out to be incorrect information…

Is it possible to do this more effectively?

Thankfully, new innovations in marketing technology have made the process of connecting artists with audiences much more efficient. The Fan Collector ( www.thefancollector.com) was designed by Communitek for the purpose of simplifying mobile data collection. This small, touch-screen computer can be carried around at live events such as concerts, shows and parties to quickly gather information from fans into spreadsheets and manage your lists without being too invasive to the consumer. For musicians & entrepreneurs looking to take their business enterprise to the next level, this proven solution will drastically increase the effectiveness of the data collection process.

How do I maximize the potential of my fan list?

This is a loaded question, because the potential is practically unlimited. Collecting signups is the easy part, so what really defines your success is how you decide to put this information to good use. The fact is, the more ways you can come up with to connect to each fan individually, the more successful your enterprise will become. Here are just a few examples of already existing methods to get you started:

1. Strategic Marketing

Marketing groups like the Strategic Group ( www.strategicgroup.tv) and Clientique ( www.clientique.com) offer complete staffing solutions for live event marketing. They provide the service of renting out attractive models to walk around surveying and collecting information from the people in attendance.

2. Fan List & Email Management

There are many list management websites available online, though some choose to focus specifically on the music industry. Great examples include Fanbridge ( www.fanbridge.com), iFanz ( www.ifanz.com) and uSync ( www.usync.net), all which allow you to upload your fan database, send emails and sell merchandise & tickets directly to your customers. These services are must-haves for serious artists and promotion groups.

3. Mass Text Messaging

Sometimes digital mail isn’t always enough to get the word out. In addition to mass emailing, sites such as EZTexting ( www.eztexting.com) and ClubTexting ( www.clubtexting.com) will allow you to send out bulk SMS messages to your subscribers about important information. For instance, a great way to increase attendance & sales is to have fans redeem special offers by sending a text message with codes for discounts on tickets & merchandise.

How can I make the most of these opportunities?

These companies will provide the services, but ultimately it is up to you to design specific campaigns for their implementation. One recommendation would be to offer a free download of a song or album for signing up. The redemption code or password could then be sent to all fans that signed up at a particular event via email. Another method which has been successful is offering discounts on show admission by showing promotional text messages at the door of an event. The success rate of each campaign can then be tracked based on how many people actually redeem their offers.

This is just a small collection of innovative ways to engage your audience and open yourself up to a higher level of success. This is by no means a definitive guide, but is best used as a general starting point for emerging artists & promoters. Best of luck!

Author: Matt Everett, Vice President Sales & Marketing, Nu-Communitek LLC. Originally for sonicbids.com

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